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09/26/2005 Minutes
September 26, 2005 at 11:30 am
Town Hall

Meeting Minutes of September 26, 2005:

I.      Meeting called to order at 11:50am by Chairman

II.     Minutes from August 22, 2005 meeting accepted.  Motion made by Cathy Drouin, seconded by H. Stuart Woodard.

Minutes from September 15, 2005 forum (10:30am and 6:30pm) accepted.  Motion made by Cathy Drouin, seconded by H. Stuart Woodard.

III.    Attendance:  
Present:  Claire Badstubner (Chairman), Carol Madore (Tax Assessor), Elizabeth Burns (Municipal Agent), Catherine Drouin (Vice-Chairman),  H. Stuart Woodard
              Absent:  Karen Boutin, Cheryl Littlefield

IV.     Elderly Tax Relief:

Ms. Burns announced that today is a meeting of the new committee, “Local Tax Credit/Deferral Committee” that is being held in conjunction with the regular meeting of the Elderly Commission.

A discussion of the appointment letters that all commission members have/will receive, assigning them to the Local Tax Credit/Deferral Committee.

Discussion of the 60-day window – what the date is.  Letters from First Selectman, Linda Roberts gives a date of 12/20/05.  It was determined through discussion between Ms. Burns, Ms. Madore and Ms. Badstubner that the tax credit/deferral issue/report will be presented to the Board of Selectmen (BOS) 11/15/05 meeting.  The committee may be asked to return to the BOS 12/20/05 meeting for further discussion..

Ms. Madore and Ms. Burns recommended that the report contain a summary of the past meetings regarding the tax credit/deferral issue, a summary of the forum feedback and financial figures for the town.

Ms. Badstubner questioned the members if it was felt that a special meeting should be called prior to the BOS meeting of 11/15/05 in order to finalize a report.  After a brief discussion of what the report will contain, it was determined at the commission’s regular meeting on 10/24/05, the commission should be able to finalize the report, therefore, no special meeting necessary.

Chairman, Ms. Badstubner, commented to the attending commission members that the commission has not had full attendance at any meetings to gather group input on the issue at hand.

Ms. Badstubner reviewed the results/feedback from the Public Forum with the commission members.  Public seemed receptive to the fact that their taxes are going to go up with any program implemented.

Ms. Burns expressed that people would appreciate any amount of aid as their personal finances get “tighter and tighter”.

Although Ms. Badstubner stated that she felt the presentation was good, she expressed disappointed on the turnout and lack of questions asked at both forums.   Ms. Burns and Ms. Drouin commented that the commission can’t fault itself – advertising was abundant and considering the number of people currently eligible, approximately 25% turned out.

Ms. Burns also commented on the fact that people decide what is a priority for them.  It was also noted that the senior center group consisted of all women – most of whom are widowed/single that now have new responsibilities and are seeking information.  Noted also, was that the annex group consisted of many men and couples.

A detailed discussion ensued regarding the report to present to the BOS.  

Ms. Madore suggested pulling all facts and figures together of what the commission has found out while looking into a credit/deferral program and to present that to the BOS to let them decide if the issue should go further.

Ms. Madore and Ms. Burns recommended proposing costs of each option (credit vs. deferral) to the BOS for them to see the town’s costs, which will potentially lead the issue further to the Board of Finance (BOF).  Ms. Madore reminded the group, that Windsor Locks did something similar in that their BOS approved the concept of a tax program but then left it to the BOF to decide on an amount.  Ms. Madore recommended that this could be an option to present in the commission’s report.

A second option discussed for presentation was to lay out the cost of a local program based solely on those that are currently eligible.

A third option discussed for presentation was the deferral plan.  The costs of this plan would be presented.  At this time, it was also mentioned in the report that the public, present at the forum, did not favor this option, but favored a credit program instead.

In summary, three options may be presented to the BOS:
1.      Match plan
2.      Contribution plan
3.      Deferral plan

Ms. Madore reminded the group that some administrative costs are involved for each program – hovering around $2000.00 for staff, supplies, recording, etc.

Ms. Badstubner commented that it is a good idea to simplify the report – to narrow down the options for the BOS to look at.

A brief discussion of a work credit program ensued.  It was felt by the group that a program like this (Portland does a work credit program) might be cost prohibitive and be a lot of work.  The town would have to pay out each year and most likely a part-time town position would be needed to run/manage this program.  It was agreed amongst all attendees that this option would not be considered or included in the report.

Ms. Madore will put figures together and review them with Ms. Burns.  If figures are agreeable, they will be sent (via e-mail?) to committee members prior to the 10/24/05 meeting.

Ms. Burns suggested that the committee’s 10/24/05 meeting be mandatory for all committee members and that members should plan on being there for a couple of hours in order to finalize the report.  Ms. Badstubner will call all members to let them know importance.

Ms. Burns also noted that although today’s meeting is a combined Elderly Commission meeting with the Local Tax Credit/Deferral Committee, the 10/24/05 should consist of two separate agendas and minutes.

V.      New Business:

Ms. Burns handed out fliers to the commission members regarding an upcoming  Medicare Part D (the prescription component of social security) public forum scheduled for November 2 & 9, 2005.  The commission members received a handful of fliers to help distribute/advertise the forum.

Ms. Burns proceeded to explain the importance of this issue and an overview of what Medicare Part D is.  She asked everyone to spread the word on the importance of this forum and that all eligible Medicare persons will be affected by this drug plan.  She also explained that everyone’s premiums might be different depending on which of the approximately 54 plans are available.  She stressed the importance of the public being informed, as those who are eligible will be incurring another monthly “premium”.  

Ms. Burns stated that there will be a website to help people to determine what plan might be best for them in terms of which medications they currently take and which plans those medications are covered under.  

Ms. Burns mentioned that one time a year, there would be an “open enrollment” at which time a person can change to another plan.   However, if a person doesn’t join at the first enrollment, that person will most likely be paying more (possibly up to $90.00/month for the fee), while the person waits for the next open enrollment.

Ms. Burns commented that there are a lot of unknowns right now.

Ms. Burns expressed her concern for the people who pay for their own secondary insurance and are doing “ok” right now and decide not to take on Medicare Part D, but have problems later on.

Ms. Burns also informed the group that all towns are doing forums on this issue.

Mr. Woodard asked Ms. Burns if prescriptions under a VA plan would be affected as well.  Ms. Burns:  yes, it will be affected.

Goals for 10/24/05 meeting:  
Elderly Commission:  
1.      Discuss Medicare Part D impact on the elderly
2.      Review advertising for November forum
Local Tax Credit/Deferral Committee:
1.      Finalize report to be presented to BOS

Meeting adjourned at 12:40 pm.  

Respectfully Submitted,

Christine Pellegrini
Recording Secretary